1 Oct 2023

Americans celebrate former President Jimmy Carter's 99th birthday

2:57 pm on 1 October 2023
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter waves to the congregation after teaching Sunday school at Maranatha Baptist Church in his hometown of Plains, Georgia on April 28, 2019. Carter, 94, has taught Sunday school at the church on a regular basis since leaving the White House in 1981, drawing hundreds of visitors who arrive hours before the 10:00 am lesson in order to get a seat and have a photograph taken with the former President and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter.  (Photo by Paul Hennessy/NurPhoto) (Photo by Paul Hennessy / NurPhoto / NurPhoto via AFP)

Jimmy Carter, turning 99 on 1 October, has become the longest-lived American president in history. Photo: PAUL HENNESSY

By Jeff Mason for Reuters

Americans celebrated the 99th birthday of former President Jimmy Carter this weekend, with the White House putting up a wooden cake display on its north lawn and the Carter library in Georgia hosting a party for the public.

Carter, a Democrat who served as US president from January 1977 to January 1981, is in hospice care after deciding in February to decline additional medical intervention. He turns 99 on Sunday local time.

In Atlanta, the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library & Museum hosted a celebration that it said would feature cake, games, trivia and a food truck. The party was moved up to Saturday ahead of a possible government shutdown that could start around midnight on Sunday.

Back in Washington, a three-tiered wooden cake display, decorated in the red, white and blue colours of the American flag and featuring 39 candles in recognition of Carter's being the country's 39th president, festooned the White House lawn with a "Happy Birthday President Carter" message.

Carter, who was born on 1 October, 1924, has lived longer after leaving office than any former president in US history. He has garnered worldwide admiration for his post-presidency humanitarian work and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002.

A sign wishing a happy birthday to former US President Jimmy Carter sits on the North Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, September 30, 2023, ahead of his 99th birthday on October 1. (Photo by SAUL LOEB / AFP)

A sign wishing a happy birthday to former US President Jimmy Carter sits on the North Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, ahead of his 99th birthday on 1 October. Photo: SAUL LOEB /AFP

Carter has faced health challenges in recent years, including melanoma that spread to his liver and brain, but he has continued to show resilience, even after his decision to start hospice care.

He and his wife, Rosalynn Carter, who has dementia, took an outing a week ago to attend the annual peanut festival in their hometown of Plains, Georgia.

Carter's grandson Jason told The New York Times that the former president faced physical limitations and was "coming to the end," but was home, with his wife, and at peace.

- This story was first published by Reuters.